Politics Thread


With regards to the Florida Governor race: The Republican candidate only needed to retract his statement upon learning that many people nationwide took the phrase to be a bull-horn or dog-whistle related to race.

By not doing so, his intentions in making the statement in the first place does not matter.

Just as Trump’s actions after Charleston supersede the original intent of statements made so does this candidate’s actions supersede the original intent of his rhetoric.

That’s all I will say on this topic.


Slippery thing, isn’t it? Almost like public statements made by a public official to the public are judged by their effect instead of any semantics. It’s like we live in a world where we have to be aware of, and responsible for, consequences which fall outside of the original intent of our actions.

If my hand slips and I spill food all over your floor, it’s easy for me to say I didn’t intend to make a mess. But I shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt if I just leave the mess out on the floor and wait for someone else to pick it up.


I agree on this… but so many of our actions unintentionally contribute to systems that marginalize and disenfranchise others that I feel there has to be more to be said. “Racism without intent” is a definition of racism that (if we’re willing) opens our eyes to the sickening extent to which racial discrimination/privilege is built into our society. But by that same token, it’s hard to use it as a guide to action, or to differentiate between degrees of racism. At some point, intent has to matter, surely.

Your “far afield” comment at the end illustrates the problem acutely. Of course the case can be made for Clinton, but it doesn’t stop there: a vote for Bernie was a vote for white supremacy, and patriarchy.

Sure, we can posit that that wasn’t the intent of 99% of Bernie voters. But Bernie’s successful rise as a standard-bearer for radical ideas had plenty to do with his privilege as a white man (and Elizabeth Warren choosing to defer her candidacy, wisely, in light of gender stereotypes). Bernie plainly benefited (if not intentionally) from the double-standard about ambition that contributed to so many people’s dislike of Clinton. Sure, all those voters who disliked Clinton said it was about other stuff–emails, Benghazi, Wall Street–and they don’t think of themselves as sexist, but it’s irrelevant when the impact was to further depress and marginalize women in politics, hardening the glass ceiling. Bernie’s talk about race and about many issues that matter to black Americans has been tone-deaf, to put it kindly.

And was a vote for Obama a vote for white supremacy? Cornel West sure thought so.

Forgive the provocation, but if Bernie and Obama (and their voters) fall into the category of unintentional racists, then we’ve never yet had an election where we haven’t been voting for white supremacy. And I’m lefty enough to believe that, in a crucial sense, that’s absolutely true. But then we need to ask ourselves about the difference between voting for white supremacy and for “a white supremacist,” and I think intention starts to come back into it. We need some language to talk about the (huge, meaningful) difference when it comes to racism not just between Trump and Clinton, but between Trump and Bush or Trump and McCain.


You criticize Lincoln for exceeding his authority in suspending the writ of habeus corpus initially without the consent of Congress. Yet, you also complain that his Emancipation Proclamation did not go far enough. Lincoln did not have the authority to free slaves on his own in the slave states that had remained in the Union. Furthermore, the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to those Confederate areas already retaken by Union forces because again the President’s war powers did not extend to areas where the courts had been reestablished. The Emancipation Proclamation only initally applied to those areas still in rebellion because only to those areas could the President apply war powers. Lincoln tried initially calling only for volunteers to fight the war but when their numbers proved insufficient, it was a choice of use the draft or lose the war.

Equating a politician calling for “bringing order to our streets” and “putting criminals behind bars” with Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican rapists is in my opinion false analogy. In an area with high crime, what else would be expected of politicians than to call for restoring order and putting the guilty behind bars? Should we instead expect politicians in spite of high crime to call for reducing the police presence on the streets, reducings sentences, and releasing prisoners? That would be an interesting political stance indeed.

So no, I do not consider calling for bringing order to the streets a racist dog-whistle. A family member of mine enjoys reading books on Irish-American history. I wish I could recall which particular such book offered the following observation, but it had to do with the Draft Riots during the US Civil War. The book offered the observation that rioting is due not to race but to poverty. The rioters in this case were mostly white impoverished Irish immigrants and they were responsible for the biggest riot in US history that was only finally suppressed after the arrival of Union regiments and artillery fresh from the Battle of Gettysburg. When the Union General in command spoke of restoring order, he was referring to whites not blacks.

Stereotyping is a problem. And it is not just a problem of some police engaging in racial profiling. As of 2008, there were approximately 765,000 police officers with arrest powers in the USA. Out of that many people, it should not be surprising that some will indeed misuse their powers. That does not mean in general however that supporting the police is racist.

Bernie Sanders actually participated in the Civil Rights movement. A vote for a white candidate is not necessarily a vote for white supremacy nor is a vote for a male candidate necessarily a vote for patriarchy. I do not think it is unreasonable to actually judge candidates based on their qualifications and policy positions as opposed to their race or gender.


While it could be just an amazingly stupid and ill-conceived remark, which is possible with live TV, the “monkey this up” crack, coupled with the demeaning verbiage, feels pretty darn racist. At best it’s just a Freudian slip, his unconscious bias peeking out. And we all know what the “at worst” is.


That’s not what I was suggesting–see my reference to Obama a line later. Bernie’s habit of talking about “the working class” while not mentioning race–his campaign’s explicit strategy of focusing on “everybody issues”– is easily interpreted as shoring up white supremacy (and was by many of the voters who cost him the primary). Of course that’s not his intent. He’d never intend that, and nor would the folk who voted for him. But that’s irrelevant to structural racism and sexism; and the fact that Bernie calls us to pay more attention to “everybody issues” rather than structural racism (and quickly gets irascible when someone challenges that) means that he shores up the system even while challenging it.

I like Bernie. I’d be elated if he were president today. I don’t think he’s a racist–except in the sense that lots of us who are deeply implicated in a system that privileges white people are racist. That’s the sense I think is implied by Jason’s post, and while I accept it – yes, I’ve voted for white supremacy too – I think it can’t be the last word.


Jason, I think it’s safe to say you are a passionate anti-racist. As I’ve mentioned earlier with monkeys, there’s only two groups of people that would assume “black people” when there’s talk of criminals in general. The first is actual racists, who would make that implication to begin with. The second are passionate anti-racists, who see implications everywhere, even if they have to squint their eyes first.

We humans are absolutely swayed by bias, and never more than in the midst of a political season. Those who dislike a candidate will find reasons to justify their dislike. This doesn’t absolve Trump of some of his many questionable statements, but it does explain why it’s so hard to be objective. This lack of objectiveness is why so many on the far left and far right seem to live in entirely different worlds, only loosely based on reality.

So in my effort to be objective, I try my best dismiss any claim that doesn’t have hard evidence to support it. In the case of racism, there has to be a direct statement or action taken that targets and belittles a person or group of people based on their race. This evidence doesn’t require me to do any guesswork or to “mind-read” what the person is implying. This helps keep subjectivity to a minimum.


See I disagree there. I think if there’s evidence, sure, it (both the person and the statement) need to be dealt with-- a resignation, firing, etc.
If there’s no evidence, hard or soft, sure, dismiss it outright, the burden of proof is on the claimant.

But when there is no hard proof (which could be the majority of cases if we only take outright racist rants or admissions of racism as hard evidence) just dismissing any claim that the statement is racist or the speaker is doesn’t seem very ‘objective’ or fair-- it perpetually gives the benefit of the doubt to the speaker and allows them to say anything really, as long as they’re smart about it.

I’m not sure how subjective my views are, again I live in the UK, and whilst I like the Democratic party, I’ve never heard of these guys before, or how racist they could possilby be.

I would, however, argue that if one, within the 1st 12 hours of running against a black candidate, makes more than 1 questionable statement (also, his use of monkey wasn’t part of a commonly used phrase-- ‘muck’ or ‘mess’ is more accurate), that reflects, at least slightly, on his character-- not that he is racist, but perhaps that he is out of touch with many people he is supposed to represent to the best of his ability.
Plus, makes him look dumb.

And then there’s the problem with tons of people just not caring, which leads to excuse after excuse being made for worsening behaviour.
And the fact that to many #reking the other side counts as an educated political comment, a lot of stuff said by certain politicians just seem like social media rants by weirdos


Jason, I think it’s safe to say you are a passionate anti-racist. As I’ve mentioned earlier with monkeys, there’s only two groups of people that would assume “black people” when there’s talk of criminals in general. The first is actual racists, who would make that implication to begin with. The second are passionate anti-racists, who see implications everywhere, even if they have to squint their eyes first.

I have to disagree again. What’s the face that pops into your mind when you hear the world “criminal”? It’s not a woman, right? It’s not an East or South Asian person (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, etc). I’d bet it’s not a white person either. That means it’s either a black or Hispanic man. That’s what pops into my head when I hear the word “criminal;” I’d challenge you to tell me something different.

As long as the cultural and linguistic associations are as strong and constantly reinforced in our society as they are, there’s just no getting around it. When a political says “criminals,” unless he specifies otherwise (like “white-collar criminals” or something), he’s talking about street level crime by brown folks.

Unfortunately, you and I–being of a certain age–will probably never not have these associations. We’ll never hear “criminal” and not think “black man.” But I’m aware of that connection, and work to consciously circumvent my unconscious biases. Are you working to circumvent yours? And no, appeals to “objectivity” are not “I’m working to compensate for my biases.”

(It’s the same with “terrorist.” Terrorists in America are predominantly white Christian men, but when you hear the word terrorist, Americans broadly imagine MENA men.)


This ties into the mind-reading I’m talking about. I don’t know what associations pop into your head when a word is uttered, and I certainly shouldn’t judge you for it. I wouldn’t be able to, not under any legal basis. If in your head you can only see criminals as black people, then that’s very unfortunate but it’s also not a crime.

Until you act on your bias by making a direct statement or by taking an action that targets and belittles a person or group of people based on their race, I’m not going to call you a racist. I’m not going to pass that sort of judgement on someone just on what I think their mental associations are.

You make the argument that we are all subconsciously making mental associations due to the culture and linguistics we are surrounded in. I agree that our minds tend to make associations all the time, especially as mental shortcuts. My thinking is that those who are passionate anti-racists make these racial associations far more often then a non-passionate anti-racist does. If only because they are looking out for it more.

I try my best not to judge anybody by what I think they’re thinking. And I stand by that as being the best approach to take here.


Words Criminal and what it means change from any culture to other, but is basically a stereotype full and racist. I am Spanish. Here nobody assume criminal as black. However, it still bring to people a racist idea, of minorities. Here is mostly Gypsy and North Africa Muslims. But them normally if you look the statistics is not true. In Australia happens with natives. Is terrible and shouldn’t be allowed but media trying to maintain that perception. It sells saying other races or groups are criminals that came to rape and steal. While most of criminals and assassins are in fact at least in Spain majority White Spanish man from 16 to 40.


I’m not from the US but for me, a slick bankster or corrupt CEO ranks pretty high (and the stereotypical image of those is well-groomed white men of at least middle age) and in the classical sense it would probably be a heavy bald, pierced and tattooed white “outlaw biker”. Now that I live more rural in daily life those are the most common thugs around these parts and I think that in the US, being the huge country it is the face and perception of “criminals” in people’s minds is likely to change hugely based on geographic region and socioeconomic status.

I do recognize that on the terrorism front this is a bias of mine caused by my fear, as a gay man, of Saudi, Wahhabist fundamentalists and the corrupting influence of their money.
But we are closer than the US to the actual Middle East and North Africa and harbour higher populations from those regions who do hold less than welcoming and charitable views towards gay men such as myself and Arab oil money isn’t helping there. :unamused:

Still in my personal imagination the first thing that comes to mind for most categories of “criminals”, except for “terrorists” are some variety of white men.


Why would I attach a face to the word criminal? That seems strange to me, but I’m very left-brained. Words like criminal don’t summon pictures to my mind.

I remember when crime skyrocketed in the late 80’s and early 90’s, a time when people of all colors were complaining about criminals. Politicians of all stripes took action to address those complaints which came from black and brown folks as well as white folks, as black and brown folk were a disproportionate share of the victims. Now some of those actions politicians took were ill-conceived and/or racially biased. Nevertheless, to reduce a desire to bring down crime rates entirely to racism strikes me as an oversimplification and comes across as a type of bias in itself.

While I still don’t picture any faces, I’ll give you that I tend to associate the word ‘terrorism’ with bombs and men with a skewed interpretation of a certain faith that is not Christianity.


Until you act on your bias by making a direct statement or by taking an action that targets and belittles a person or group of people based on their race, I’m not going to call you a racist. I’m not going to pass that sort of judgement on someone just on what I think their mental associations are.

Like voting for Republicans?

You might find that an incendiary statement. It’s meant as one. But here’s the logic:

Whatever reasons you vote for a Republican, Republicans support one another. That’s how political parties work.

Elected Republicans, as a whole, support the instruments of state, such as the police and the prison system.

Police are humans like the rest of us, steeped in the same cultural milieu that we are. On a whole, when you say criminal, I would argue that police think “black man.”

This means that, when police stop black folks for crimes, they unconsciously assume that a black person is guilty and/or dangerous. You may say, “you’re mind reading again,” but I’m not talking about mind reading, I’m talking about measurable, aggregate effects: black men are stopped by police in disproportionately high numbers in our country. So, either your believe that black men are inherently more criminal–which is a racist statement–or our police are consciously or unconsciously racist. I don’t really see another way to cut that statistical fact.

Then, again, black men are murdered by police in disproportionate numbers. And then again, police who murder people of color aren’t generally brought to trial, and if they are brought to trial, they are very rarely convicted.

Now, along that route, none of the jurors might think of themselves as racist. The judge and the prosecutor might not think of themselves as racist. Hell, the cop who killed the black man–as in the case of Philando Castile, where he was murdered by Jeronimo Yanez–might not think of themselves as racist. But the aggregate effect is that Castile is dead and Yanez is a free man. By your metric, this is not racism, and I couldn’t disagree more.

When you’re voting for Republicans–and law and order Democrats, like Andrew fucking Cuomo–you’re voting for police to be allowed to murder people of color. Because at no step along the way are those elected officials going to work to upend the system that is reproducing this systemic racism.

You make the argument that we are all subconsciously making mental associations due to the culture and linguistics we are surrounded in. I agree that our minds tend to make associations all the time, especially as mental shortcuts. My thinking is that those who are passionate anti-racists make these racial associations far more often then a non-passionate anti-racist does. If only because they are looking out for it more.

Clearly, we disagree.

If you don’t confront your biases, and actively work to compensate for them, then you’re allowing yourself to be blinded by your own privilege.


I agree with pretty much all you’ve said, but I would like to point out couldn’t one (racist or not) say that they believe that black people are disproportionately stopped because they commit more crime on average because on average they are worse off (financially speaking, risk vs reward stuff) and more likely to be in gang areas or something like that

Also, I don’t really associate criminal with Black person in my head.

Granted; the discussion is turning more in US politics, and so my biases are prob ably different to the average, but imo words like “criminal” are fine, whilst “Thugs” and such are much more charged. (I’m not sure if happen’s in USA commonly but often used heregularly to refer to black violent people/ criminals, “thugs” rarely refers to white people


I pictured a white guy with a 5 o clock shadow and a muscle shirt and a heart tattoo. Further on it’d be a hebephile woman (case a year or so ago). Plus if someone lived in an area with very little diversity anyway, I’d imagine they’d picture their own race anyway or whatever minority has enough presence in their area (if they even picture stuff like that when they hear words in the first place, I only did it because you said specifically to).

I mean the accusation seems to assume where you live in the first place (never mind their circumstances). Though I did picture black when you said terrorist, but I’d ascribe that to daddy issues :blush:

That’s been a mantra of my life for a while. Me being the aspie that I am, I didn’t think the best of everyone and thought other people were the same way (I was so confused when I saw someone speak affectionatly about the family they lived with because I thought they’d deal with their bad side more often than others, and don’t get me started on people’s voices) And then with black history and documents explicitly helping other races by private racist helped encourage that.


Allow me to posit a third possibility. A young man’s propensity to commit violent acts is deeply affected by the environment in which they were reared. It’s as much of a socio-economic issue as it is a racial one. A disproportionate share of America’s urban poor have black skin. If positive male role models are absent and negative male role models are plentiful, if schools and economic prospects are poor, than violence becomes more attractive, especially when street gangs of young men battling for control over neighborhoods are looked up to by the younger boys in those same neighborhoods, creating a vicious cycle of violence that chews up and kills young black American men in far larger numbers than police brutality.

This is most definitely true. There are racist cops, there are trigger-happy cops, there are incompetent cops, there are cops who make tragic mistakes, and there are cops who lie to cover up their mistakes. But there are also innocent cops who are wrongfully accused and judged prematurely in the court of public opinion based on hearsay that does not stand up to the light of either judicial scrutiny or forensic evidence as in the Fergusson, MO case.

Yanez clearly overestimated the threat Castile presented and it’s very possible that the color of Castile’s skin played a role in that overestimation. It’s fairly obvious that Yanez panicked. He was totally oblivious to Castile’s body language and voice tone. He was too dim-witted to recognize that if Castile wanted to kill him he wouldn’t have told him about the gun. Instead Yanez lost it and started hyperventilating as soon as Castile calmly notified him of the gun in the car. Yanez gave Castile conflicting instructions which Castile attempted to follow in a way that unknowingly amplified the threat that Yanez felt to the point where Yanez panicked and started firing. Yanez was guilty of terrible judgment which resulted in an even more terrible tragedy, but terrible judgment isn’t a crime in and of itself. And I’ve read that after over 5 hours of studying and discussing Minnesota’s definition of culpable negligence, the jury felt it had no choice but to acquit Yanez due to the wording of the law. That is an incredibly unsatisfying verdict and it very much sounds like the law is in need of an update. My heart goes out to Castile’s family and to that little 4 year old girl who witnessed it all from the backseat.

I can feel your passion regarding this issue. Nevertheless cops should not be condemned any more than Muslims. You’ve pointed out that white Christians commit more “terrorist” acts in the US than Muslims, but it should also be recognized that young black men in the US are far, far more likely to lose their lives to other young black men than they are to police officers.

Privilege isn’t the only thing that can blind, so too can one’s passions.


As I understand it, you are under the impression that the Republican platform itself as well as the police system is inherently racist. Correct me if I’m wrong here. Because if you believe this, then it makes a lot of sense why you’d consider voting Republican/supporting the police as a racist act.

But of course if you believe this, then the ball is in your court to provide that hard evidence that these institutions are fundamentally racist–that is, they take actions or make statements directly targeting and discriminating people based on their race. And you’ve provided some examples here:

Police stopping black men in disproportionately high numbers seems racist to me. But what if they’re looking for criminals who are statistically likely to be black males? Do you see the difference there? What if the target is criminals, and not black men? What if them stopping more black men than white men is a side-effect of statistical probability instead of systematic racism?

This is such a divisive topic, and that’s a real shame because it stops us from seriously looking at the solutions. Fixing inner-city schools, addressing fatherless homes and a lack of jobs for young men–these aren’t easy fixes, and these issues just don’t bring in the headlines that murders do.

I can’t really call this anything else but an over-simplification to support your bias. There are absolutely racist Republican politicians and police officers out there, but guilt by association is a fallacy which you’re using to paint the entire Republican Party and the police force as a whole. This is a mental shortcut.

Do you think you might be over-compensating, and that you might be projecting your biases onto others, over time forming a separate, subjective reality called “systematic racism”? Passionate anti-racists make racial mental associations all the time, and so long as they continue to “mind-read” the intentions of others, they’ll find racism wherever they want to find it.

I think especially because the far left and far right tend to thrive in echo-chambers of similar opinions, these subjective realities grow to ridiculous sizes, and stray further and further from the objective truth.


The police militarization in the USA and to a lesser degree all over the EU is a very worrying development and police procedures and training probably need to be thoroughly revised to keep up with the 21st century.
The onus for police brutality and failure however rests far more heavily on their management and political leadership and making individual officers feel unduly threatened is one of the elements that adds to the current cycle of violence.

Indeed far too little is being done about the underlying socioeconomic causes in our contemporary Western, neo-liberal societies.


For the sake of clarity, let me ask, is your argument that perhaps black men deserve to be incarcerated at a rate of, what was it, more than five times that of white men? That perhaps they deserve upwards of double the sentence for the exact same crimes in some circumstances?

Do you not consider “let’s not place black people in forced labor camps” to be a solution to the problem? Do you think, perhaps, that placing a disproportionately large number of black people into forced labor without pay is, ah, perhaps reminiscent of something else we had in the US, but were supposed to get rid of? Oh what was that thing? Do you remember what that was called?

Possible? Do you think the fact that an all white jury is statistically far more likely to find a black defendant guilty than a white defendant is just, what, a funny little thing?

Why did you go after Muslims here? No, seriously, think about it, when we were talking about people who are willing to commit state sponsored violence, why did you think, ‘Oh, Muslims’? Are you trying to say that when you think of people committing violence you inherently think of Muslims?

Why did you put terrorist in quotation marks when we’re talking about white terrorists? Do you think that white terrorists are somehow less dangerous? Do you think white terrorists are less likely to target you personally? Do you think white terrorist actions should be downplayed and/or supported? Do you think white terrorists are less of a threat to your personal world view or your life?

And why go around from discussing white terrorists to “black on black crime”? No seriously, why? Are you aware that most white people are killed by white people? Do you think that is statistically significant? Why/why not? Does that fact that most white men are murdered by other white people show a proclivity for violence by white people?

Do you think Trump is racist? Do you think gerrymandering to reduce the voting power of black people is racist? Do you think forcing people to get IDs to vote is racist? Do you think that forcing people to pay to vote is racist? Do you think supporting ethnic cleansing is racist? Do you think normalizing these things are racist? Do you think tacitly supporting these ideas without making an active contribution to them is racist?

Do you think supporting people that say they support these ideas but not actively contributing to them yourself is racist? Do you think saying you actively disagree with these ideas, but supporting them when your friends or associates support them is racist? Do you think saying you disagree with these ideas, but will not actively stop them, and will support people that do actively contribute to them is racist? Do you think saying you don’t condone these ideas, but that you share values with people who do is racist? Why kind of “proof” do you need? Where is that line where someone goes from not racist to suddenly racist to you?